Her lashes sweep down, hiding her eyes from me as she gives a brisk nod. “That’s what I want.” The answer is barely above a whisper, but I hear it and my body responds with a flush of warmth and satisfaction.
“Well then…” I don’t know what to say exactly. Get your sweet butt over here and sit in my lap would probably sound too needy, even if that is what I crave. Hell, it’s been over a month since I’ve properly touched her.
Anna, however, has other things on her mind. “You want something to eat?”
Behind the familiar scent of home, something savory and something sweet linger in the air. “Was Gray here?”
She snorts, moving into the kitchen. “Figures you’d think it was Gray who cooked. Yeah, he was here too.”
I imagine Anna and Gray in my house together and frown. While doctors were putting me back together, they were going on with life. Neither of their lives has been smashed to pieces. And the difference between them and me is painfully clear.
Unaware of my growing anxiety, she eyes me slantwise. “You ought to have told me you had a personal chef. I wouldn’t have bothered.”
I twist in my seat to look at her fully. “You cooked for me?”
“Don’t look so shocked. I have before.” She’s scowling now.
“I’m grateful every time, Anna.”
My honesty is rewarded by her blush. “I didn’t actually cook. Gray did. He made you bean soup.” Her lips twitch. “Said the pain meds might leave you ‘backed up’ and in a state that you’d need some roughage.”
She laughs. “What? No need?”
“Hardly. But I’m starving, so I’m not turning down his damn soup.”
“Shocker.” Her expression is cheeky as she gets a bowl. “I baked.”
“She bakes.” I grin up at the ceiling, earning an eye roll from Anna. “What’d you bake me, Jones?”
“Awesome. Bring that too.” Now that I’m out of the hospital with its disgusting, flavorless food, I’m so hungry I could eat the whole pie. That Anna made it for me makes it even better. Whatever the case may be, she cared enough to clean my house, bake me a pie, and stay by my side.
The sounds of her puttering around my kitchen, reheating the soup and getting a tray ready makes me sleepy. I relax against the couch, my lids growing heavy. It feels right having her here, like the house is suddenly a complete home. A stupid thought to fixate on, because she’s only here for a while. But I know in my bones that I want her here forever. I’m twenty-three years old, my carefully built life has just been smashed to pieces, yet I know with complete clarity that I never want to be parted from Anna Jones.
I watch her walk toward me, and my chest clenches. Pale from lack of sleep, her red hair flying wildly in all directions, she’s not at her finest, and she’s still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.
“You’re supposed to be elevating that leg.” She sets the laden tray on the coffee table before grabbing some couch pillows to stuff under my leg. Not that she gets far. A grunt of annoyance escapes her as she tries to carefully lift my leg and struggles. “Jesus, it’s like a tree limb,” she grumps.
I snort and help her haul the dead weight that is my leg up so she can place the pillows beneath it. “Does that mean you won’t be carrying me to bed?”
She shakes her head, suppressing a smile, but then catches my eye. “Are you tired?”
“Yeah.” Exhaustion has me by the balls. If I allowed myself, I’d sink down and be out for weeks. “But all I’ve been doing is sleeping.”
She nods in understanding and slips another pillow behind my back. “Then we’ll hang out for a while.”
Before we go to bed. Together. And though I’m feeling like shit warmed over, the idea of sleeping in a bed with Anna tightens my gut with longing. I need to touch her. Just feel her next to me. “Sit,” I say. “You’ve done enough for now.”
Anna hands me a bowl of soup then takes her own before complying. Without hesitation, she snuggles down, her shoulder leaning into mine as though she too needs comfort. Before I can say a word, she hands me the remote, and I grin. “You know how to take care of a guy.”
“No,” she assures, “I don’t. I’ve never done this before.”
The soup gets caught up at the sudden lump in my throat.
Anna takes a spoonful of hers before talking again. “I just know guys like their TV.”
But I don’t turn on the TV. Not yet. Frankly, I’m afraid it will be on the sports channel, and I don’t think I can stand seeing any sports right now. I sure as shit don’t want to see a replay of my leg being broken on national TV, or hear the sports casters’ opinions about my chances of recovery and what this means when it comes to the draft.
The soup turns to lead in my stomach, and I bend forward to put it down. Only I can’t reach the table with the bulk of my leg sticking straight out. I grit my teeth and itch to toss the bowl across the room.
Anna takes it out of my hand and neatly sets it on the table. “Lie back,” she says softly.
I do it because the alternative is raging and hitting the side of the couch.
She turns the TV on, hits mute, and then changes the channel before I can register what was on. She knows me too well. And I like it. When the volume comes on again, it’s some cooking show, and she takes up her position at my side. I wrap an arm around her shoulders and draw her close. She rests her head on my chest and places her warm palm on my abdomen.